Parenting schools online during the COVID-19 pandemic

Support for parents on how to improve relationships with their children and reduce stress is being provided even during the COVID-19 pandemic

UNICEF Montenegro
Parenting school using Zoom application during pandemic of COVID-19
UNICEF Montenegro
04 June 2020

PODGORICA, 3 June 2020 – More than one hundred parents have successfully completed parenting schools that were organized online with the support of UNICEF during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings from research carried out upon the completion of this programme indicate the almost all the parents claim that their children's behaviour has improved thanks to small changes in their parenting style.

"The biggest benefits of this programme are that I noticed many mistakes I was making as a parent, as well as the way and the huge desire to correct them – to become a better parent and improve in what I was lacking – to be more tolerant and calm. This change of mine reflected on my children, as they became more compliant precisely because of my efforts to be calmer, more tolerant, as well as to apply everything I learned in the parenting school," Ivana Djukic explains.

The drawing by Marija Timotijević, a mother from Bijelo Polje, created while attending parenting school in May 2020.
UNICEF Montenegro
The drawing by Marija Timotijević, a mother from Bijelo Polje, created while attending parenting school in May 2020.

Ivana and other parents had started attending the "Parenting for Lifelong Health" programme, whose workshops had to be continued online due to the coronavirus crisis.

"Our online work, using the Zoom application, was a step in the right direction in this situation and the COVID-19 pandemic. It was such a relief to be able to do everything from home, while the results of our work were the same as if we had been in a room attending workshops in person, as was the case before this situation," Branko Boskovic explains.

One of the facilitators of this parenting programme, psychotherapist Darija Petovic Bambur, points out that its continuation online was of particular importance for parents due to increased stress and additional challenges, such as trying to reconcile the obligation to work from home with children's school obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Apart from the usual problems that parents encounter on a daily basis, such as the issue of setting boundaries, giving clear instructions, building relationships and the like during the pandemic, we additionally covered issues such as: how to talk to children about the pandemic and new measures, how to structure their time, how to deal with stress, and how to encourage children to play independently," Darija Petovic Bambur explains.

The support house is part of the parenting schools programme
UNICEF Montenegro
The support house is part of the parenting schools programme

In the research that followed the programme, all the parents stated that they would recommend it to other parents. Some of the most significant benefits listed by the programme’s participants were as follows: less frequent use of physical punishment of children, solving children's behavioural issues with more confidence, and playing and communicating with children in a better and more relaxed manner. Most parents claim that this programme has helped them resolve some other personal or family problems that are not directly related to their children and thus improve the quality of their relationship with their partner and their own self-satisfaction because they have learned how to recognize and regulate their emotions better.

The "Parenting for Lifelong Health" programme has been implemented by the Association "Parents", NGO "Pedagogical Centre of Montenegro", public preschool institutions "Djina Vrbica" in Podgorica, "Duso Basekic" in Bijelo Polje, "Zagorka Ivanovic" in Cetinje, and "Dragan Kovacevic" in Niksic, as well as by the primary healthcare centres in Podgorica, Berane, Bijelo Polje, and Cetinje, with the support of UNICEF, the European Union, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Health of Montenegro since 2018.